- Most managers don't understand the basics of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to a ClaimVantage survey, the results of which were presented at a Disability Management Employer Coalition webinar and shared with HR Dive. The organization tested 435 managers, asking three questions about the law. The organization tested 435 managers, asking three questions about the law.
- Forty-six percent of managers can name the benefits the law provides, the survey revealed. Forty-two percent of managers know how long employees can be absent on FMLA leave. Forty-nine percent knew which type of employers are required to offer FMLA leave.
- Nearly three-quarters of respondents said their employers had offered FMLA training; 21% said they had not offered such training, and 8% said they couldn't recall whether their employers had provided it. Knowledge scores did not differ by training, DMEC said. But managers who had training demonstrated a better understanding of their role in the process. Sixty-three percent of supervisors with training, for instance, knew they could be sued for FMLA violations, while 34% of those without training understood that element of the law.
Here's an answer key to the questions DMEC posed its survey participants: The FMLA offers unpaid, job-protected leave to workers who have serious health conditions or a need to care for a family member with serious health conditions; it allows employees to take this leave for a maximum of 12 weeks in a 12-month period; and it covers public agencies, schools and private employers with 50 or more employees.
It can be important for supervisors to understand the basics of the FMLA. Employees can trigger the law's protections without referencing it when they ask for time off in relation to an illness, a surgery or the birth of a child, for instance. While managers may not be responsible for administering the leave themselves, they need to know enough to understand when they need to elevate leave requests to HR.
The FMLA isn't the only employment law with which supervisors should be familiar, experts say. It's important managers understand the basics of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Ogletree Deakins Shareholder Gregory Hare told attendees at a 2019 Society for Human Resource Management conference. Like the FMLA, the ADA is a federal employment law, and it often intertwines with the leave law.
Supervisors are sometimes the cause of FMLA claims, as well as harassment and discrimination claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without proper training, managers may behave inappropriately by making an employee feel singled out or picked on, experts previously told HR Dive.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, HR Dive misidentified the organization that conducted the survey. ClaimVantage, a division of Majesco, created the survey.